If the Los Angeles Kings fail to make the playoffs, an offense that failed to deliver on a consistent basis could be blamed.
The Kings will try to jump-start their offense once more on Saturday when they resume the Freeway Face-off series with the retooled Anaheim Ducks in a matinee at Staples Center.
Los Angeles (29-27-4) has been blanked twice in three games against Anaheim (32-20-10) this season, including a 1-0 setback on Sunday at the Honda Center.
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“They just played good defensive hockey and the goalie played well and we didn’t get enough good scoring opportunities,” the Kings defenseman Drew Doughty told the team’s official website.
Scoring has been an issue for Los Angeles for much of this month. The Kings have netted just 15 goals over their last nine games, with six tallies coming in a win over the Florida Panthers on Feb. 9. The Kings have gone 3-6-0 over that stretch.
“You’ve got to score goals to win, and obviously there are games in that stretch where we just weren’t good enough,” Jeff Carter told the Kings’ official website. “There’s games where we were good enough and we don’t score. It’s coming down to crunch time here, and we’ve got to get it going.”
Over the last nine games, Carter has notched seven points (three goals, four assists) while Tanner Pearson leads the way with eight points (four goals, four assists), but the Kings have gotten virtually nothing from a pair of high-scoring veterans — captain Anze Kopitar has just two assists and Marian Gaborik has failed to register a point in that span.
The Kings’ scoring woes continued on Thursday with a 4-1 loss to the Boston Bruins. Kevin Gravel scored his first NHL goal for Los Angeles, which is tied with the Winnipeg Jets for ninth in the Western Conference.
“At the end of the day, you’ve got to win games, and we’ve got, what, 25 games left or something like that? You need two points, and we need all the points we can get right now,” said Carter, who needs one goal to reach 30 for the fourth time in his career and for the first time since 2010-11 with the Philadelphia Flyers.
Carter had two power-play goals and an assist in the Kings’ 3-2 win over the Ducks on Nov. 20.
The Ducks are in the middle of the pack among the eight teams from the West currently fighting for a playoff spot, and they made a move to fortify their offense by acquiring Patrick Eaves from the Dallas Stars on Friday for a conditional second-round pick in the 2017 draft.
If Anaheim reaches the third round of the postseason and Eaves plays in at least half of the games in the opening two rounds, then Anaheim will send a first-round pick to the Stars.
While with Dallas this season, Eaves set career highs with 21 goals, 11 power-play goals and 37 points. The right wing has a goal and an assist in nine career games at Staples Center.
“When you can make a move to add to your team — and not subtract anything, like we did today — it’s huge,” the Ducks’ Ryan Kesler said on the team’s official Twitter feed.
Anaheim is 6-7-1 since last winning consecutive games on Jan. 17 and Jan. 19 over the Tampa Bay Lightning and Colorado Avalanche, respectively.
The Ducks have alternated wins and losses in their last seven games and are coming off a 5-3 win over Boston on Wednesday. After being held without a point in his previous five games, Rickard Rakell scored twice and backup goaltender and former King Jonathan Bernier made 26 saves.
Rakell has two goals and two assists in three games versus Los Angeles this season. He recorded the first of his seven game-winning goals this season in the Ducks’ 4-0 victory over the Kings on Nov. 1.
Bernier got the call in place of John Gibson, who is dealing with a lower-body injury. Two of Gibson’s career-high five shutouts this season have come against Los Angeles, but coach Randy Carlyle said in a tweet on the Ducks’ official feed that Gibson had an MRI on Friday. The procedure revealed no serious injury and Gibson will be rested heading into the team’s break, the tweet also said.
After this contest, Anaheim resumes play March 3 against the Toronto Maple Leafs in the opener of a three-game homestand.
The Kings and Ducks will close the regular season against each other on April 9 in Anaheim.